Pawlenty vetoes natural resources bill
Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a natural resources bill Tuesday in part because it mandated special regulations without input from state biologists, including walleye regulations for Fish Lake north of Duluth.
In his veto message, Pawlenty said the provisions reflect "legislative overreach by attempting to set arbitrary hunting and fishing management policy." Tim Goeman, DNR regional fisheries supervisor in Grand Rapids, was glad to hear that Pawlenty had vetoed the bill.
"There were a number of things in there that were very troublesome," Goeman said. "The reason it got vetoed -- and the (DNR) commissioner put it in a letter -- is that legislators are micromanaging the DNR. Truly, if they want to do that, we don't need the DNR."
Goeman specifically mentioned some closures to bank-fishing on lakes and rivers in other parts of the state as examples of troublesome aspects of the bill.
"Several access points were closed to bank fishing. ... There were certain user groups that were targeted there. I won't say more than that, but that's on the verge of racism," he said.
Also, he said, the DNR had opposed opening Cass Lake to spearing, as the bill would have done.
"That would have been devastating on the northern pike population," he said.
Pawlenty acknowledged that some parts of the bill were worth pursuing and said he would direct DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten to begin developing them. One such initiative is a walk-in access program that would pay rural landowners to make their land available to hunters.
Goeman said it's a relief that Pawlenty's veto removes the language that called for special fishing regulations on Fish Lake. State Sen. Satveer Chaudhary had secured the special regulation by asking the bill's House author, Rep. Dave Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, to insert it during a floor debate. It would have increased the stock of larger walleyes in the lake, probably through limits on the fish harvest.
Chaudhary, a Democrat from Fridley who owns a home on Fish Lake, told the News Tribune he promoted the regulations after receiving inaccurate information that a majority of nearby residents wanted the change.
Pawlenty said the provision "may have been improperly inserted."
Killing it will save the DNR some unnecessary work, Goeman said. Even though Chaudhary said he would work to rescind that provision of the law early in the 2011 legislative session, the law technically would have remained on the books until then.
"That takes the burden off me," Goeman said, "of having to carry out the letter of the law between now and next March. That will save what could have been a lot of work."
Removing the Fish Lake provision pleased Tim Wagner, owner of Hi-Banks Resort on Fish Lake, who opposed any special regulations for the lake.
"That's good news," Wagner said. "We know it got taken care of."